Beware World Cup-Induced Sleep Deprivation

The whole world (even many in the United States, which isn’t normally soccer crazy) has its eyes on South Africa right now for World Cup 2010.  The problem is that the world may have its eyes on South Africa at times when those eyes should be closed.

With 32 international teams playing three or more games played every day, it can be difficult to figure out when to get some shut-eye, and that’s not even considering the time zone issue. For those on the west coast of the United States, some games will start early in the morning … before the sun comes up.

Here at SleepBetter, we’ve written about the dangers of sleep deprivation after events like the Super Bowl, but events like the NCAA basketball tournament and World Cup are a different animal entirely.  They go on for weeks, and fans can find themselves seriously sleep deprived before the champion has been crowned.  Studies of sleep deprivation have shown that missing the proper amount of sleep for even one day can cause reduced coordination, reflexes, and decision making.

Here are some tips for enjoying the World Cup without finding yourself in a sleep deprivation stupor:

  • Make use of technology: DVRs, or digital video recorders, were created for a reason.  They allow you to easily record games that happen when you have something else (like sleep) that you need to do.  In fact, if you’ve recorded a game you can fast forward through slower parts if you desire, and see the end of the match more quickly.
  • Adjust your schedule if necessary: It’s not the best solution, but if you must watch a game that starts when your schedule says you should be sleeping, try to go to bed at a different time if you can or take naps during the day.  You won’t be at your best by using this method, but sleep at unusual times is better than no sleep at all.
  • Resist the urge to pound coffee or energy drinks: Mass amounts of caffeine can only temporarily make up for a lack of shut-eye.  It can also keep you from sleeping when you aren’t watching soccer matches.
  • Take a few days off: This is only for the most severe cases of World Cup Fever, but if you must watch several soccer matches every day, it will be impossible do accomplish while still working more than eight hours during a 24-hour period.  Consider taking a few days off from work if you must, so you can nap in between games.